Chapter Seven – Practice

Den sidste første fredag i måneden i år 2014 og jeg er klar med kapitel 7. Heri kommer Jennifer til at komme i lidt mere kontakt med hendes nye side af sin familie. Det er næsten synd at der ikke rigtig er noget julet over kapitlet, nu hvor vi er i December.

 

The last first Friday of the month in 2014 and I’m ready with chapter 7. In this Jennifer gets to be a bit more acquiented with her new side of her family. It’s almost a shame that there’s not more Christmas in the chapter, now that it is December.

 

Chapter Seven – Practice

“Jennifer?Can you hear me? Wake up honey.<< The voice sounded from far away. It was a familiar voice but Jennifer had a hard time recognising it. She felt like she was floating and it really was a wonderful feeling, but the voice in the distance kept calling to her, telling her to wake up. But if she went back it meant she would have to return to problems and things that made no sense at all. This place was much nicer and far less complicated. She slowly began to feel someone touching her arm. The voice also got clearer as it kept repeating her name.

>>Jennifer? Wake up! Jennifer?<< She started to recognize certain feelings going through her body and she reached the conclusion that she was lying on the floor with her head on a soft pillow. Her bed was not as hard as the place she was lying. She tried to move a bit but her muscles didn’t really want to listen and it didn’t amount to anymore than a tiny twitch of her left arm. This seemed to be enough for the voice though, because it softened after this twitch.

>>Sweetie, Jennifer. Can you hear me?<< Her desire to stay right where she was, was still strong although she wanted to answer. But her voice wouldn’t do what she wanted it to do either, leaving her only to grunt as a reply. Immediately after this, she felt a soft motion up and down her left arm. A warm hand was stroking her arm to make her come back to consciousness. Jennifer tried to move her head and she heard someone gasp close by her. It was a short while before she was able to look up into the worried face of her sister and see it clearly.

>>Thank God.<< Breathed Sam, still holding on to Jennifer’s arm, she kept stroking it. Jennifer’s other arm found its way to her neck at once. It was bare even when she went around the collarbone in her search.

>>Is this what you’re looking for?<< Jennifer turned her head far too fast craning her neck and saw Anna holding the necklace in one hand. Jennifer made to reach for it but Anna kept it out of her reach.

>>Wait one second.<< Sam’s grip on Jennifer’s arm tightened and Jennifer turned to her with a displeased look.

>>But it’s mine.<< She squeaked in an embarrassing tiny voice. Sam just nodded.

>>We realise that, but until we figure out what just happened you are not getting it back. You didn’t relax until we took it of you.<< Jennifer didn’t understand a word of what Sam said. The last thing she remembered was the door opening and she had been overpowered by emotions, which she now realized must have come from Sam as she entered the room. After that, everything had gone black.

>>You collapsed on the floor.<< Anna explained, and Jennifer noticed she still kept the necklace out of reach.

>>You kept pressing your hands to the sides of your head and screamed in pain. You were practically thriving on the floor screaming. It wasn’t until Jack held you down and we took the necklace of you, thatyou calmed down. You sort of went all limb and then you passed out. And now you’re here.<< Jennifer looked confused at Sam, who just nodded along to the explanation coming from Anna.

>>But…<< Jennifer tried to form a question to why it had happened in the first place, but all she seemed to be able to think about was how she was going to get the necklace back. She looked over at Anna again, but this time she couldn’t spot the necklace and she fell back on her pillow.

>>We don’t know anything about it either. Just that it has to do with the necklace. So until dad gets here tomorrow, we’ve decided to keep it away from you. It’s only what’s best for you.<< Sam placed a hand on Jennifer’s shoulder but Jennifer could see no good part about it. She couldn’t forget the feeling she’d had when she had the necklace on. She realized it was the primary reason for her lying on the floor, with no real powers left in her body. But it was impossible that had been her father’s intention when he gave it to her? Besides he’d wanted her to practice. Despite all this, it was clear from Sam’s expression Jennifer would get no further opportunity to test it. She sighed, which to Sam seemed to be her expression of agreement.

After this, Sam insisted on Jennifer staying in bed where she was brought breakfast in bed.

>>At least one good thing came out of your little accident, you managed to get some form of rest.<< Sam was clearly in a brighter mood when she was tucking the covers around Jennifer. Normally this was something she would have objected to, but she felt like Sam needed to do this more than Jennifer needed her to do it, so she let her. Strangely enough, Sam was right. The collapse had helped in that sense; she was no longer as exhausted as she had been. She didn’t know how long she’d been out of it and she didn’t feel like asking either but no matter how long it had been it had clearly helped her. She felt as fresh and awake as she’d had a good night’s rest, which only made her feel more irritable about being forced to stay in bed. She ate her food in silence, with Sam hovering over her, making sure she ate everything. When she finished she watched as Sam started to get out the vacuum cleaner.

>>Sam, why do you think he gave me that necklace?<< Sam stopped with one hand on the vacuum cleaner and turned to Jennifer.

>>I assumed he wanted to prepare you.<< She said with a slight shrug of the shoulders, as though a necklace opening to other people’s feeling was something you came across every day.

>>Prepare me for what?<< Sam wrinkled her nose and gave another slight shrug. >>You know more, don’t you? Why do you keep doing this? You knew the necklace was making me feel that way and you knew it would make it better the minute you took it of me, didn’t you?<< Sam bit her lip and Jennifer knew she was right. >>How much do you actually know?<< Jennifer crossed her arms and mustered the harshest look she could at Sam, who kept silent. Sam gave a heavy sigh before she adjusted her seat to get more comfortable.

>>You have to know Jennifer, what little I know I have been told and I have never experienced it first hand myself.<<

>>First hand? What are you talking about?<< Sam gave a vague smile.

>>You see, in Júzrïe some people have what they refer to as Gifts. I would simply call them enhanced senses or powers, or whatever. It was this you experienced earlier. Your senses were sharpened, in a way. I suppose it’s possible the pendant woke your Gift from its otherwise dormant position. Because it is your senses, they’ve always been there. Only when you get to Júzrïe they might be enhanced and that can be frightening. I assume that is the reason why dad gave you the pendant and asked you to practice, thereby making sure you wouldn’t be completely freaked out by it.<<

>>So what you’re saying is I have super-senses?<< Jennifer tried to feel for what she had felt earlier but she could feel nothing out of the ordinary.

>>In a way.<< Sam chuckled. >>But not everyone has these Gifts. Mum said it runs in families. Obviously we get it from dad’s side of the family.<<

>>Do you and Anna have it too?<< Again Jennifer felt surprised and just a tiny bit offended that they hadn’t told her this either.

>>Yes, but we can’t access ours the same way you can. My guess is, if we wore the pendant our senses would wake too but as I don’t intend on going anywhere I don’t plan on testing that theory. Because we get it from dad’s side of the family, mum didn’t have any of these senses, or Gifts, as you will have to start calling them. And not everybody in Júzrïe will have them either. From what dad’s told me, they descend from some of the oldest families. Other Gifts are more unusual and more rare and occur without any real explanation, and don’t ask me what these Gifts are,<< Sam quickly interjected because Jennifer was about to open her mouth. >>Because I don’t know. As I told you, I can only tell you what I remember dad or mum telling us and even that is limited. After dad returned to Júzrïe on his own, mum did her best to keep us from that world.<< Jennifer nodded.

At least now she knew a bit more than before. She knew she would have to get used to the slight buzzing she still had at the back of her head. It had been there ever since she woke up on the floor. It even seemed to have progressed, Jennifer felt like she could catch up on other people’s feelings when they were close by her. As Sam had said, it was like the pendant had awoken a sixth sense in her and now she couldn’t turn it off again. She cast a quick glance at Sam and faster than she expected she got the feeling yet again that Sam knew more than she let on. Jennifer kept quiet and tried to focus on the feeling she picked up from Sam. There was definitely doubt as the first thing she could clearly recognize, further than that she couldn’t tell, the feeling of doubt was too big.

>>What are you thinking?<< The sound of Jennifer’s voice seemed to alter Sam’s mood. At the moment her so-called Gift didn’t seem like such a bad thing. It helped her to understand her sister better.

>>There is one more thing but it’s a bit more family business than the rest. You know how our grandfather died making dad have to go back and leave us here? Well, there’s not much I know of our family on dad’s side beside that we still have a grandmother. Dad mentioned her one time.<<

>>Have you met her?<<

>>A couple of times. But I was just a child and I can’t really remember much of it. I think she got to see you right after you were born, before dad left. That was the last time I saw her. But as far as I understand from dad, she is very much alive and maybe too much at some times. I think her name is Beth, from what I remember.<< Sam couldn’t help but smile at the blissful look Jennifer suddenly got. Jennifer had relapsed back into her imagination, thinking about how her grandmother would be. She thought about what it would have been like if she had been there when Jennifer was a child. How they would have laughed and kept secrets together. She was so immersed in her daydreams she didn’t notice Sam leaving again.

Jennifer stayed in bed a few more hours daydreaming, but late in the afternoon she went downstairs and found the rest of the family in the middle of quite a heated argument. The minute Jennifer entered the room, silence swept across them.

>>Don’t hold back on my account.<< She said with a hand to the side of her head. She could feel the tension and excitement far away from everyone. Susan sat in Anna’s lap but crawled excitedly over to sit with Jennifer.

And Jennifer discovered how easy Susan was to be around, compared to the others. The only thing Jennifer read from Susan was pure joy of sitting and tucking on Jennifer’s hair. Jennifer did her best to retract her hair from Susan’s tiny fingers before she broke into the argument.

>>We were just discussing what we’re going to tell the neighbours and our friends of your sudden disappearance.<< Jack explained and glanced at Sam who scoffed.

>>There’s no way we can tell that our presumed dead father has returned from the dead and taken her to another world.<<

>>And telling people she went off to boarding school is just too mean. No one will believe that one anyway.<< Anna interjected and smiled at Jennifer. Jennifer kept quiet and let them continue the argument. Anna was the one who came with the most suggestions.

>>How about something about a distant relative? That’s partly true anyway.<<

>>Everyone we know knows the size of our tiny family. A distant relative is out of the question, they’d know it was a fake.<< The only thing they seemed to agree on was the truth was out of the question. Even if they simply explained Jennifer’s father had returned and surprised them all by still being alive, no one really had any spare feelings left for him.

Their mother had lived in the same neighbourhood for quite a while and had developed a close relationship to many of the neighbours and when Jennifer’s father had left; he simultaneously left all the positive feelings from all the neighbours. He was no longer popular with the neighbours and they all wanted what was best for Jennifer’s future. They were like a second separate family to Jennifer and her sisters. Especially the elderly Mrs. John next door had always been like the grandmother Jennifer never got the chance to know. When Jennifer’s father left he also departed from her kindness and every time he was brought up in conversations she would always start to mumble something sounding very much like the word ‘men’ in a rather brusque voice while she snorted and rolled her eyes. Jennifer couldn’t even start to imagine how she would react is she would have to greet Jennifer’s father today.

>>Well, what were you planning on telling people then?<< Sam snapped and looked from Anna to Jack to Jennifer, but neither of them answered her.

>>We could say she eloped with some strange guy?<< Anna suggested timidly and Jennifer was glad Sam could hear the joke in this suggestion as they all started to laugh.

>>Maybe. But let’s resort to that one as our last option.<<

>>How about, just till summer’s out I mean, you could just tell people I was off on some camp?<< Jennifer had suddenly remembered some of the kids from school talking about a summer camp where they were going to spend the summer. >>That sort of thing is for a number of weeks, right?<<

>>That would give us some time to come up with a better explanation for when summer’s out.<< Anna waited for a response from Sam. After all, it was Sam who would have to live in the house with the prying neighbours and would have to fight off all the questions.

>>It sounds like a decent plan. And it does give us more time. So I guess as of tomorrow you’ll be off to camp.<<

>>Right, now that’s taken care of, how does some tea sound?<< Jack headed for the kitchen without waiting for any possible objections and started preparing tea.

Afterwards, Jennifer got her jacket and went outside into the garden. She could hear Mrs. John working next door on one of her many flower beds. When she heard the door close behind Jennifer, she poked her head up over the hedge at once and sent Jennifer one of her usual wrinkled smiles. Mrs. John was the friendliest elderly lady, who had embraced Jennifer and her sisters as were they her true grandchildren. She and her husband never got around to having any children of their own, and when he died some years back her attention span for Jennifer and her sisters only grew that much bigger.

>>Jennifer, my dear.<< She exclaimed joyfully and Jennifer could hear the gardening tools clamber on the ground when Mrs. John dropped them and came to sit next to Jennifer. As always, she smelled slightly of roses and top soil from the many hours she spent in her garden. She was a rather short woman with an arching back from bending over her flower beds, which also resulted in the layer of dirt she had all over her.

>>You’re looking a wee bit sad deary.<< Jennifer couldn’t help notice how Mrs. John exhaled heavily as she sat down, but she pretended not to. >>Come; come tell me what could be this troubling? Nothing’s ever as bad as it seems, I always say.<< You could always count on the usual classic advice from Mrs. John. She placed a warm arm around Jennifer who appreciatively leaned in to her shoulder.

>>It’s nothing too serious, really. I’m just going away for summer camp tomorrow.<< Jennifer said it in the lowest key she could, but nothing got past Mrs. John.

>>Camp? But I’ve heard about no such thing.<<

>>Yes, it was decided just yesterday. And I leave tomorrow.<< As nonchalant as she could, Jennifer tried to shrug it off.

>>Well, now I see why you’re sulking like this. But it’s not that bad. Last I checked these camps don’t last more than a few weeks.<<

That they didn’t, thought Jennifer. It’s not so much that, but the fact that I won’t be coming home afterwards, she added mentally. She didn’t say this out loud for obvious reasons. At least she knew the plan about going away to camp would work.

>>Cheer up, I’m sure it’ll be some great weeks.<< Mrs. John squeezed Jennifer gently before offering her some work to clear her mind; working in the garden always helped Mrs. John in that way. Jennifer chuckled at the offer but accepted it nonetheless.

She would have liked to spend some more time with her sisters but whenever she was around them she was only so much more reminded of her coming departure, a thing she definitely didn’t want to think about. So she followed Mrs. John back to her garden with a heavy feeling in the pit of her stomach. It wasn’t until she was surrounded by the many flowers she remembered her experience with the plant in her window. Very quietly she backed up against the garden gate, which Mrs. John noticed immediately.

>>Come on deary, they won’t bite.<< Mrs. John chuckled at her remark and didn’t pay any further attention to Jennifer. Without even thinking about it, Jennifer had fiddled for her neck where her new necklace would have been. She took a few deep breaths and knelt down next to the rose bed. Her hand was still by her collarbone when she reached out for the tiny shovel. Rather forcefully, Jennifer reached out for the rose and when her fingers where mere inches away, she could feel it. It was the same sensation she had with the plant in the morning, although it wasn’t as powerful.

     The necklace, thought Jennifer and scratched her neck absently. It would have had to turn something on inside her, because no matter which rose she reached for she could feel it exactly like she had felt the plant in her window still. Although she couldn’t feel the roses as strongly, or hear them sigh. Whatever it was, the necklace seemed to have enhanced it. Jennifer put the shovel down and rather hesitantly placed a single finger on one of the rose petals and the instant she touched it she could feel the entire Energy of the rose coursing through her body. She sensed how it thrived in the dry earth but needed more space and it was thirsty. Jennifer couldn’t resist a tiny smile at herself. She let go of the rose and touched the one next to it and felt a similar Energy run through her again. It needed space, just like the first one. Jennifer turned to Mrs. John who was humming to herself while she was gardening. To be perfectly sure, Jennifer touched every single rose in the flower bed and she sensed the same; they all wanted more space.

>>Mrs. John? I think some of your roses are too cramped, and they could do with some water.<< She added as Mrs. John came over to look at the roses with a slight frowning of her nose.

>>Yes, they might be a bit cramped here but I simply don’t have the space to spread them out any further. The hose is over there darling, just give them all the water you feel they need.<<

With the hose in one hand and a finger on the nearest rose, Jennifer watered the entire flower bed and after about a minute she could feel the rose had had enough water. She let go of it and for the first time she tried to see if she could feel the rose without actually touching it. Strangely, she had an easier time feeling it at the tip of her fingers because that’s were she had last had contact with the rose. She rubbed her fingers together and very slowly she could feel the rose’s Energy in her hand. Again, she smiled at herself without Mrs. John noticing anything.

Very subtle Jennifer went through the other flower beds in the same way, with a finger to each flower, without Mrs. John noticing anything. With every time she touched a rose her contact with them grew stronger. After watering the first flower bed she could sense the flowers’ thirst without any direct contact with them. She just had to hold out a hand over the roses to catch their Energies. Jennifer couldn’t help but wonder at this new Gift she had discovered, it was both strange but comforting in a way she couldn’t explain. The feeling of helping the roses in such a simple way by giving them enough water was surprisingly satisfying.

When she’d watered the entire garden, she decided to try one more experiment. She knelt down to the first flower bed she’d chosen, closed her eyes and focused on the roses alone. She could hear Mrs. John in the background but ignored her the best she could. Instead, she tried to get a sense of the roses again. Their Energies were easily recognizable but she couldn’t figure out how to connect with them without touching them. Still with her eyes closed she held out a hand above the place she knew the roses were and at once their Energies felt stronger. She remained like this for some seconds to get the exact feel of the Energies. Then she very slowly retracted her hand, though keeping her attention on the roses. Incredibly enough, she could still feel the roses’ Energies while she moved further away, it was like their Energies flowed through her. It was a funny feeling. Jennifer relaxed again and opened her eyes. The roses looked no different than before, the only difference was to be found in Jennifer. It wasn’t physically visible but Jennifer could clearly feel it. The Energies of the roses ran through her as something completely natural. All of a sudden it was like the roses could recognize her too. Their wish to get more space suddenly changed to a demand. Jennifer shook her head but the demand from the roses only grew stronger, making it harder for her to ignore.

>>Mrs. John, I’m sure Sam wouldn’t mind if you moved some of the roses into our garden. That way they would all get more space.<< Jennifer turned to Mrs. John and as Mrs. John came closer, the Energies of the roses fainted away and Mrs. John’s presence grew stronger. The Energy from Mrs. John became so strong that Jennifer felt slightly dizzy and she was glad she was already sitting on the ground. She closed her eyes to shut out Mrs. John without much luck. Mrs. John’s worry for her roses rushed over Jennifer and when Mrs. John noticed how uncomfortable Jennifer looked, her worries shifted to her. She placed a hand on Jennifer’s shoulder and at once Jennifer was overwhelmed by Mrs. John’s worries. Without any real thought to it, she shook Mrs. John’s hand off and the worry diminished slightly. Mrs. John looked a bit offended, but Jennifer was too affected to pay any real attention to it. She was too focused on keeping Mrs. John’s emotions out and re-focus on the roses. The roses’ Energies weren’t as big as Mrs. John’s and was easier to keep at a distance. It was certainly not easy for Jennifer.

>>Deary, are you all right?<< Mrs. John hesitated to put her hand on Jennifer’s shoulder again, but she didn’t and Jennifer felt grateful for it. She shook her head in silence, bit her lip and didn’t say a word. It took a few long minutes before Jennifer felt capable of speaking again.

>>I’m sorry Mrs. John. I guess I got a bit dizzy for a moment.<< Jennifer tried to close of the Energy from Mrs. John, she didn’t succeed completely but it was significantly lesser and she was starting to feel the Energy from the roses again.

>>Perhaps you should go inside and lie down a bit. The heat must’ve gone to your head.<< Jennifer nodded, but she couldn’t ignore the roses easily. Not the way they were practically screaming at her for more space.

>>The roses?<< Mrs. John looked down at the roses and then to the garden next door.

>>Yes, it’s not like she has a lot of colours in there. If you think she wouldn’t mind you go ahead and move a few of them.<< The minute Mrs. John had given her consent a wave of hope emerged from the roses. Jennifer was flooded by it; each and every rose was now hoping to be moved. Without thinking of what she was doing she schussed the flowers.

>>What’s that deary?<< Mrs. John looked worrisome at Jennifer.

>>Nothing, I think there was a bee or something.<< Jennifer glanced around and hoped Mrs. John didn’t think more of it.

>>A bee? I see, well, just move a dozen or so of the roses to your sister’s garden. Can you manage on your own or do you want me to do it for you?<< Mrs. John was already preparing to dig up the roses but Jennifer stopped her.

>>I’ll do it. Thanks for the help Mrs. John but if it’s all right with you I think I’ll go lie down after I’ve moved the roses.<<

>>Of course. We can’t have you feeling ill before you leave for camp. Say hello to your sisters from me, I see Anna’s visiting these days.<<

>>I will.<< Mrs. John nodded in agreement; she smiled one last time before she turned her back on Jennifer once again. When she was just a few feet away Jennifer could feel Mrs. John’s Energy lessen and Jennifer felt much better. Again the roses felt stronger with her, and their desire to be moved had suddenly grown much bigger, so much that Jennifer felt a need to shush them again, but she refrained.

>>I can’t move all of you.<< She said instead, through clenched teeth as she started digging. She thanked Mrs. John before she went back to their garden to find a fitting spot for the roses. They helped guide her to a spot below the kitchen window. It went far easier than she had expected. The roses helped her more than she could imagine and after only a few minutes they all seemed happy in their new location. Jennifer sat down and felt for the Energies. It had started to diminish from the roses, as they had gotten what they wanted; they no longer felt the need to shout at Jennifer. Just as the Energy from the roses fell away, another more familiar one started to approach Jennifer. She moved away from the flowers and their Energy disappeared completely as she did so, but the new one kept growing. Jennifer recognized the source when Sam poked her head out the window. In the same way it had happened with Mrs. John, Jennifer was flooded with Sam’s emotions, but they weren’t as strong as the worry she had felt with Mrs. John, this was more of wonderment.

>>Jennifer, what are you doing?<< Sam looked down at Jennifer who was slowly creeping away from the newly planted rose bed.

>>Mrs. John gave you some roses, I was just planting them for you.<< Jennifer said with some trouble while she focused on keeping Sam’s Energy away. It was difficult, but she almost had it right until she sensed the skepsis with Sam over the new roses.

>>Remind me to thank her. Dinner’s almost ready, won’t you come in and wash up?<< Jennifer didn’t have to answer and she didn’t get a chance to either before Sam had disappeared inside again, letting Jennifer relax. She breathed heavily and looked first to the roses then to the window where Sam had just been. With a bit of strain she got to her feet, fearing how the rest of the evening would play out. With this Gift, it would be impossible for her not to seem absent the entire night and she didn’t need Sam to worry even more over her. She had already collapsed on the floor once that morning because of the necklace. The necklace she didn’t seem to need anyway.

With one hand on the door she took a deep breath and tried to find something simple to focus her Gift on for the rest of the night.

(Copyright Michelle H. Lindberg)

To be continued in Chapter 8 – New Beginning

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